Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of Persia"

See other formats

LV             THE MONGOL CATACLYSM          155
were massacred. Nishapur was not captured at the first
attempt, and Togachar, a son-in-law of Chengiz, was
killed; but Sabzawar was stormed and its seventy
thousand inhabitants were massacred.
The Destruction of Merv and Nishapur.—The first main
operation undertaken by Tuli was the capture of Merv
Shahijan, the famous capital of Sanjar, which had recovered
from the devastation wrought by the Ghuzz and was at
the zenith of its prosperity and civilization. In proof of
this there is a letter written by Yakut, the eminent
geographer, at Mosul, where he had arrived safely from
Merv after many narrow escapes. He refers in glowing
language to the rich libraries, to the many men of science,
and to the numerous authors of Merv, and exclaims in
his enthusiasm, " Their children were men, their youths
heroes, and their old men saints." He then laments as
follows : " The people of infidelity and impiety roamed
through these abodes ; that erring and contumacious race
(the Mongols) dominated over the inhabitants, so that
those palaces were eflkced from off the earth as lines of
writing are effaced from paper, and those abodes became
a dwelling for the owl and the raven ; in those places the
screech-owls answer each other's cries, and in those halls
the winds moan responsive to the simoon."
The Mongol prince, having by means of false
promises obtained possession of the persons of the lead-
ing inhabitants of the doomed city, perpetrated a most
horrible massacre of over half a million helpless inhabi-
tants. Ibn-ul-Athir puts the number of victims as seven
hundred thousand, and the author of the Jahan Gusha at
a still higher figure. When it is borne in mind that the
inhabitants of the surrounding district would all have fled
to the city for protection these numbers are not incredible.
Five thousand inhabitants of Merv, who escaped the
massacre, were subsequently done to death by a troop of
Mongols which was on its way to join the main army,
and the place remained desolate until rebuilt more than a
century later by Shah Rukh.
From the smoking ruins of what had been Merv,
Tuli marched to Nishapur. Preparations had been made